Discover Bendigo

Resisting co-operation
James Lerk
Herbert Keck was determined to improve his soil quality. For some considerable time the Bendigo council and councillors had been investigating the best methods of night soil removal. By the middle of 1891 the councillors had decided that they should use a daytime collection service for the p..
14-Sep-2017
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Keck in court
James Lerk
When I began this series about Herbert Keck, our readers will recollect that mention was made of how he had approached the Bendigo council in 1890 in respect of depositing the city’s night soil on his land. As told at the time, Keck’s property was just over the city border in the..
07-Sep-2017
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On the council
James Lerk
The Strathfieldsaye Shire had three main sources of revenue from its ratepayers in the late 1890s, fruit and vine growing, mixed agriculture and gold mining. Strathfieldsaye fruit was being sold in the markets of Europe, with local growers being awarded for the quality of what was offered. ..
31-Aug-2017
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Keck on the council
James Lerk
Even before Herbert Keck had sufficient spare time, independent financial means and had become a well known public figure, he was thinking about the myriad ways in which he could serve the public. At different times ratepayers in the Shire of Strathfieldsaye had broached the subject of Keck ..
24-Aug-2017
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Water mattered
James Lerk
I have mentioned the keenness with which Herbert Keck had used irrigation in developing his orchard, horticultural and nursery activities on his site. The Bendigo business prospered under the drive and initiative that Herbert took, however he was also a great exponent of irrigation developm..
18-Aug-2017
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Gypsum at the lake
James Lerk
North of what is now the Terrick Terrick National Park lies Bald Rock, situated to the east of Pyramid Hill, the area has natural deposits of gypsum, a very useful soil improver, particularly for clays. The knowledge of the deposits at Timm’s Lake had caught the eye of Herbert Keck an..
04-Aug-2017
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Harvesting the crops
James Lerk
Mention has been made about the many different varieties of fruit and vegetables that were grown by Herbert Keck on a commercial basis. Keck grew melons in profusion as he did the Turk Caps or squashes, however the pumpkins were only for weightlifters to harvest as most weighed in at over 30..
27-Jul-2017
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Keck's original
James Lerk
Early in June when I began writing about Herbert Keck, I mentioned that he had at least one plant that bore his name. This plant was “Keck’s Special”, a camellia so named because it had been bred by Herbert Keck himself. The camellia originates from Southern China and has b..
20-Jul-2017
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Both sides of the law
James Lerk
Self sufficiency was something that many people who possessed some land attempted to achieve, particularly in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. There were the chooks for both eggs and meat, a goat or cow that could be milked, the vegetable plot and fruit trees. Neighbour..
13-Jul-2017
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Creating a public profile
James Lerk
Soil improvement was seen by Herbert Keck as the way to make the land he owned much more productive. He was to grow an immense variety of edible plants as well as those that could be best described as decorative or utilitarian. Among the edible plants were his table grapes, varieties in..
07-Jul-2017
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The fruits of labour
James Lerk
Herbert Keck was determined to improve his soil quality. As indicated, he had offered to take the night soil from the Bendigo City Council which had contracted the collection and delivery of same to another party. Soil improvement had been high on Keck’s agenda and to this end he ..
29-Jun-2017
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An inspector calls
James Lerk
Herbert Keck, a trained stonemason, had bought land at Spring Gully near the foot of One Tree Hill. The area was described as no man’s land, worn into ruts, re-forested and the only memento of cultivation was some gorse and briars. Keck had made an offer to the Bendigo City Council to..
23-Jun-2017
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Striking out on his own
James Lerk
Last week I began a story around the Keck family and Herbert their son. Herbert had six siblings all told, he being about in the middle of the family. Some siblings had been born in England while Herbert was the first in the family to be born in Bendigo in January 1859. Herbert started his w..
15-Jun-2017
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Distinguished pedigree
James Lerk
My next subject is Herbert Keck who was to make a significant contribution to the horticultural development of not only Bendigo but a greater area to the north and beyond. He should be remembered for his immense contribution to the wider community. Apart from Keck’s orchard, his v..
09-Jun-2017
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A gardening couple
James Lerk
It is unfortunate that little is recorded of the activities of women in respect of being active gardeners in the past. Yet in the 19th and early 20th century there were many Bendigo women involved in this satisfying activity. Last week I mentioned Myrtle E Dawson nee Loy, who was most likely..
01-Jun-2017
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A hard life lived
James Lerk
Last week I featured the ordinary but useful garden of the Cook family from Spring Gully. To say that the family had lived off the smell of an oily rag at the end of the 19th century would not be overstating their circumstances. The Spring Gully house was built on a miners right claim, ..
26-May-2017
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A garden of necessity
James Lerk
The large or elaborate garden is often associated with the well to do which is in direct contrast to those in less fortunate financial circumstances. There is a great challenge in finding out details of gardens which were cultivated by the ordinary members of society in the period of the lat..
19-May-2017
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Dawson and Gill's garden
James Lerk
SO diverse was the cactus collection of Dawson and Gill’s cactus garden that at its peak it was considered to be the best and most extensive in Australia. Their sales catalogue listed over 2000 species of plants, some of which were exceptionally rare. Little wonder that orders for ..
12-May-2017
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White Hills wonders
James Lerk
Dawson and Gill’s Cactus Gardens and nursery was and still is situated in Napier Street, White Hills not far from the Botanical Gardens. Thomas Henry Dawson was born at Wodonga in 1902 and passed away at White Hills on September 7, 1986. Dawson had lived in Roh’s Roa..
05-May-2017
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Cacti in high demand
James Lerk
Cacti, like many plants, can come and go out of fashion, with climate change they will undoubtedly see a resurgence in popularity. It was pointed out last week that most cacti come from the Americas. In the late 18th century a number of species of cacti had already been imported to Australia..
28-Apr-2017
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